Welfare, neighbourhood and new geographies of diversity May 2013 – December 2014


This research was a collaborative pilot project for an anticipated large inter-disciplinary project, which will explore lived experiences of conviviality, sharing and trust as well as of difference, exclusion and tension in Elephant and Castle, a super-diverse inner London neighbourhood.

The research focused on encounters with and interfaces between the everyday lives of residents across the life course (children, young people, adults and the elderly) and local welfare state providers, in a context where local authorities must both make adjustments to respond to a rapidly shifting landscape of diversity, yet also negotiate cuts in welfare provision. Its main aim was to advance social science concepts to capture the new urban realities of super-diverse neighbourhoods; to construct the methodological tools required to research urban super-diversity; and to develop a long-term research engagement that responds to local needs. Research findings will help inform local policy-making and practice at a local level, as well as national and international debates.

Principal Investigator

Mette Louise Berg


Ben Gidley, Rachel Humphris, Caroline Oliver, Hiranthi Jayaweera


The John Fell/OUP Fund


CitiesDiversityGeneration and Life courseIntegrationPoliciesWelfare




The project built on the recent growth in urban neighbourhood studies, while also being attuned to transnational links. It engaged with literature on urban super-diversity, lived experiences of diversity, and encounters between street level bureaucrats and residents.


The project explored theoretical and methodological tools to capture new urban realities of super-diverse neighbourhoods. The project focused on the area within a one-mile radius from the Elephant and Castle roundabout in south London, UK. The researchers used quantitative socio-spatial analysis combined with a qualitative ethnographic approach including visual elements to capture the complexities and contradictions of this super-diverse area. The researchers built links and conducted exploratory interviews with residents, third-sector organisations, frontline service providers and policy-makers in the area. Dr Mette Louise Berg is undertaking a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with Southwark Council funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.